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Election Day and ADHD

It’s election day here in the United States!

Oh, don’t worry, this isn’t the big election. That’s not for another… checks calendar … checks calendar again… well, it says a year here, but that can’t be right considering how long the campaign has been going on already.

Even though this isn’t the presidential election, a lot of issues that affect people’s lives are still decided through local measures, which brings me to the first point of this post: don’t forget to vote! That goes for ADHDers and non-ADHDers alike, but I have to assume that ADHDers are more likely to to forget.

Besides forgetting to vote, there are still a couple ways things could go wrong…

I lost ADHD Votingmy vote-by-mail ballot! It’s somewhere under that mass of papers… or is it? The good news is that in 16 states + DC you can go to the polls and cast a provisional ballot if you lost your absentee ballot. This is a special ballot you fill out when there are some questions about your eligibility to vote, and any poll worker should be able to help you with the process.

I left my ID at home! Some states require ID to vote. But if you get to the polls and realize you forgot to take your wallet with you, it’s not game over. You can cast a provisional ballot, and the process to verify your identity for that ballot will vary by state.

Not to get philosophical, but in a way, voting is like life – inattentive mistakes will definitely make things more complicated, but in many cases there’s something you can do to minimize the effects of those mistakes.

So much for how to vote. As far as who to vote for, I won’t tell you which candidate is best – if only because I don’t know where you live!

However, elections do sometimes get me thinking about how my experiences as someone with ADHD shape my political views.

Maybe the most obvious way has to do with health insurance. People with ADHD disproportionately bear the brunt of the US’s exceptionally dysfunctional healthcare system, which extracts huge profits from patients. See my post on ADHD and medical costs for details.

I also have to keep in mind the fact that ADHDers are more likely to be unemployed and tend to have lower incomes as adults, apparently simply by virtue of the fact that they have ADHD. It’s a good reminder that people’s economic opportunities are determined by a range of random factors, such as whether or not they’re born with genes predisposing them to ADHD.

For me, the political takeaway from this fact is that I support policies that will help vulnerable groups of people, including groups with lower socioeconomic status, rather than policies that will punish people for being poor. Telling people who haven’t had the good fortune to enjoy economic privilege that they just need to try harder rings a little too close to telling ADHDers who haven’t had the good fortune of being neurotypical that they should try harder!

Of course, politics is complex, and there’s a whole variety of factors that influence our views. But if you have the life experience that comes with a condition like ADHD, it’s worth looking at that experience to see what it can tell you about how society works more generally!

Image: Flickr/Russ

Election Day and ADHD

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Election Day and ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Nov 2019
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